When Swatch figured out how to simplify and automate the production of Quartz watches, it made the technology extremely affordable and accessible to anyone who still wanted an analogue timepiece. But even with rumoured smart watches on the horizon, more traditional timepieces with mechanical movements are still very much desirable. And Swatch has found a way to finally make them affordable for all watch enthusiasts.
Officially unveiled at Basel World 2013 and fondled by the folks at Hodinkee, the Swatch Sistem51 features the world’s first Swiss mechanical movement that’s completely assembled through an automated process allowing it to be mass-produced. Typically watches with mechanical movements feature countless tiny components that have to be assembled by hand for exacting precision. And all that extra labour contributes to their astronomical price tags.
But with the Sistem51, Swatch has managed to reduce the number of mechanical components to just 51, making them easy for a machine to assemble. The watch’s copper, nickel, and zinc alloy case is also anti-magnetic, so the movement inside never needs adjusting, and all of the components connect to a single central screw which results in less wear over time. What you’re left with is a watch that in theory never needs maintenance, and in fact can’t get any since the case is hermetically sealed to further keep the mechanics inside running smoothly.
The most important feature of the new Sistem51, however, is the price. While a final MSRP hasn’t been set yet, Swatch is optimistic that when the watch is finally available sometime later this year, it will sell for as cheap as just over a hundred bucks. And like with the rest of the Swatch line, it can be customised in terms of bright colours and striking face designs. So forget those obscene timepieces that cost well north of a hundred grand, this is truly the future of watchmaking.